The aftermath of a fire on East 44th Street in Independence Wednesday has the owner of the house and the potential renters in disagreement.

The aftermath of a fire on East 44th Street in Independence Wednesday has the owner of the house and the potential renters in disagreement.


Kathie LeRose, who owns the house on the 14800 block of 44th and also lives next door, says that John and Laura Sola did not have anything of their own in the house when it burned and that she did not have an agreement to rent the house to them.


John Sola said that his family had $5,000 to $7,000 worth of their possessions in the house when it burned that LeRose did not know were there. He also said his family had a verbal agreement to rent it and had emails that he said proves that LeRose was planning to rent it to them.


LeRose talked with Independence police on Thursday about what the Solas had told the media. The fire, which started in the house the Solas were in and spread to the two neighboring houses, including the one where LeRose lives, was ruled accidental Thursday by the Independence Fire Department. The house where the fire started was destroyed. LeRose’s home suffered damage on the roof and the house on the other side suffered damage to the roof and side of the attached garage.


John Sola stood by his and his wife’s story that they had moved several furniture items, toiletries and food into the house where the fire started, hoping to move into it next week.


Sola told The Examiner Wednesday that his family would accept assistance. That angered LeRose.


“I think it’s wrong when they’re asking for assistance for this when they didn’t lose anything,” LeRose said. “… They shouldn’t get any sympathy or help from the public. The only thing they’re out is the $500 they gave me for a deposit, and I’m giving that back to them.”


Sola said he was stunned by the accusation.


“It makes me angry that she’s questioning my integrity,” Sola said. “I can’t be stepped on like that when it was my family that was put in danger by a burning house and it was my daughter who went and made sure she got out of her house.


“ … I suspect the reason she’s telling you this is because the property was not insured.”


LeRose’s mother had lived in the house before dying in June 2011. LeRose learned when her mother died that there was a lien against the house because her mother had entered into an agreement with a bank for a reverse mortgage. LeRose, though, said she owned the house and was in negotiation with the bank to work out who, in fact, was the owner. In the meantime, LeRose said, she started moving some of her mother’s personal possessions to her house and starting selling some of the furniture in garage sales.


LeRose, who is living in a motel until her house is declared safe, said she was trying to get insurance on the house but couldn’t without anyone residing in it. She listed the house to rent on Craigslist, and the Solas responded to the ad. LeRose said she told the Solas the house was dirty and needed cleaning. She said they agreed to start cleaning it and put down the $500 deposit.


“They were only cleaning it up to see if they wanted to use it,” LeRose said. “There was never a signed agreement to rent it. And there wasn’t anything in there that belonged to them. They had nothing in there except maybe a mop bucket.


“The only one who’s a loser in this is me. I’m not living in my home, and the one I owned next door my mother lived in burnt to the ground. And they’re trying to collect and get assistance when they didn’t lose anything.”


Sola said there was a verbal agreement to rent the house and said it was implicit in a chain of email conversations between LeRose and Laura Sola, which he sent to The Examiner.


“We wouldn’t be cleaning it up if we weren’t going to rent it. We don’t go around just cleaning up houses for people for nothing,” John Sola said. “And she told us she was in the process of drawing up a one-year lease and a contract of deed.


“And to say we didn’t have anything in there is ridiculous. There was furniture that we moved in that she didn’t ever know anything about. … There was stuff in there that had been given to us by Ms. LeRose. And we moved in two beds, and we had toiletries, food and some small furniture items … like a table and a recliner.


“We’re not even asking anything for damages like that. All I want is our money back (the $500 deposit) and to move on with our lives. I don’t understand why she’s turning on us like this.”


LeRose said she told the Solas that renting the house was never agreed on.


“The deposit was to see if they wanted to rent it,” LeRose said. “I kept telling them, ‘I don’t know what I want to do with the house.’ There was no written agreement.


“… It’s been a hard year for me. First I lost my job, then I lost my mother last June and my sister this June. And now the house burns down. I’m not doing well emotionally – or financially, for that matter – and why someone is wanting to take advantage of that is beyond me. It really turns my stomach.


“It may be true that they have nothing, but it’s not because of this fire.”


The Solas said they would stay in the Blue Springs duplex until the end of the month. He said they had given that landlord notice they would move out by Aug. 1 and that the landlord had already found another renter for the duplex who was planning to move in then.


“We’re not trying to litigate with Ms. LeRose; we just want our money back. We lost a lot of what we worked hard for, and we had put a lot of labor and time in that house to get it ready to live in, and we’re not asking her to furnish us with money for that either.”


LeRose said she isn’t asking for anything, and that the Solas shouldn’t either.


“This isn’t the way you get help,” LeRose said. “This is a horrible, tragic thing, so I’m just thankful that I got the most important things that belonged to my mother out of the house before this happened and that no one was hurt.”


Independence police detective Terry Storey said that if anyone had given the Solas money or items and feel they had been defrauded to call him at 816-325-7332.


“I don’t know about public opinion, but now I’ve been put in a bad situation, and that saddens me,” Sola said.